Wednesday: Personal OR Commissions
The white Fel gazed out at the waters, tail tucked over one paw. He looked peaceful, serene, wise. Truth is, he was asleep. If you looked closely enough, you'd see that his pink eyes had a faraway, glazed look to them- Zastrugi was, for all intents and purposes, dead to the world. He came here sometimes, to relax, to see the sun or the moon or the stars- caves got awful lonely, and he liked to bask in the presence of the creatures around him. He knew that lowtide was on its way, and that would mean easy pickings as far as the fish went. He preferred it to actually working for the meal, at least near Reisa. The salt water didn't suit his coat well, nor did it suit his tastes, but the fish it gave refuge to tasted just fine.
It was quiet, outside of the gentle sounds of the water lapping against the shore, and the distant cry of birds. It was the perfect time for a nap, and who was he to disregard that calling? Perfection came so rarely, after all, it'd be a waste. And so, the albino drifted off, staring into the distance in a most disconcerting manner.
If the quiet of the evening was perfection, with the gentle song of birds and the soft waves upon the shore, then Nora was the sudden sound of a chaos breaking through the calm. Like a spidering web of cracks racing through fragile glass Nora splashed along the shoreline. Yet, like everything, perfection was always in the eye of the beholder, and the haphazard splashing, combined with the warm sun and the cool water soaking into her fur, was perfection. Sure, she'd have to spend an hour or two grooming to work the salt out of her fur, or take a dip in one of the freshwater streams on her way home later, but it was sooo worth it.
Despite their widely differing approaches, Nora was here for the same reason as Zastrugi. The low tide would bring a bountiful fishing harvest, and she had promised her sister that she would actually bring something useful back this time. Apparently, a tattered old net she had found wasn't good enough, and that she should stop wasting time. Well, Nora would show her! She'd taken that old tattered net and patched it up, brought it along even! Surely, she'd be able to catch more with it than with her bare paws!
As distracted as Nora may have been with the glittering spray she was kicking up, she wasn't so oblivious as to miss someone sitting on the lake-shore. Especially not when that someone was a bright white blotch against the landscape. Nora stopped dead in her tracks, jaw falling agape while she simply stared for a few brief moments. It didn't take her long to collect herself though, and with a grin she gave a happy wag of her tail and called out, her nose telling her the sex of the mysterious stranger. "Well hi there mister! I've never seen someone with fur like yours before! It's awful pretty!"
Zazzy awoke with a start- there was noise. Something was coming. Something was disturbing the peace. He stared, somewhat blankly, at the Fel speaking to him. He then glanced down at his paws, and then back at Nora. "What makes my fur different? Yours looks the same. It's not like you have feathers, or scales. We are the same, and as such, if my fur is 'awful pretty', as you say, then yours matches just the same." he replied. His voice was on the softer side, and he spoke slowly, carefully. It had an almost musical, poetic note to it, as if he were trying to match some internal cadence, a rhythm only he could hear.
He shifted his gaze off the young Felvarg, and continued to watch the waters of the lake. "The waters will be leaving soon," he informed her. "But don't worry, they'll be back. I do believe they're taking the 'estranged relative' approach today. They leave just long enough to be missed, and then a little bit longer, before returning to overstay their welcome." He breathed deeply, reveling in the harsh tang of salt in his nostrils, in the way the wet air filled his lungs. "Are you also here to say farewell to the water?"
As Zazzy spoke, Nora was already formulating a response in her head. It was a good one, one that would surely explain the differences between their fur, but as the male drew his words to a close Nora suddenly found herself quite speechless. It sounded, to her, like a compliment of her own coloration, in a roundabout way, and she found herself ducking her head down a little with a sheepish grin. "Aw shucks mister, thanks. It's just that I've never seen someone with pure white fur before. Guess it caught me off-guard is all." Nora lazily kicked at an itch on the back of her left ear with a hind paw before she straightened up, following Zazzy's gaze to the sparkling seawater.
Her head tilted at his interesting choice of words to say something as simple as 'the low tide is coming.' It was an odd way to put things, and as Nora mulled the words over her nose twitched thoughtfully as she drew in the salty scent of the lake. After a moment, she shrugged, deciding it wasn't any odder than her strange fascination with anything new, or with turtles. Man, were turtles weird. "That's one way to put it. Sounds kinda like cousin Vant. He's so full of himself, and rarely comes home to visit." Nora wrinkled her nose distastefully before sneezing, the action, combined with the salty air, tickling the insides of her nose. "If you mean am I here to scoop up some fish once the tide drops, then yep!" She perked her ears and looked curiously over at Zazzy. "Hope you don't mind a fishing buddy. I promised my sister I'd bring something decent back tonight."
He flicked his tail at her explanation of her interest in his coat, and while the gesture may have been dismissive, it also seemed warm, soft even. Although Zastrugi was something of a hermit, he didn't lack social ability. The black Fel went on speaking, mentioning her cousin. He chuckled a little at her obvious distaste- it seemed like the female understood, at least on a surface level, what he spoke of.
Zastrugi tilted his head to one side and met Nora's blue eyes with his own pink ones, before replying, "Do I mind? It wouldn't matter if I did- I do not own this lake. I am sure someone, somewhere, may have staked a claim, but I am not he. Asking if I mind is seeing yourself as a burden, which you are not." The older albino had a long-winded, roundabout way of speaking, that was for certain. "That said, I am not sure I would necessarily say our plan of action constitutes fishing, at least not in the conventional sense of the word." He looked at the shore, noting that the water was, in fact, making its journey up the bank shorter and shorter. "And as far as something your sister deems decent, it sounds to me as if your sister ought be the one here. How are you to know what her preferences are? To know what her measurement of value is? Unless I am mistaken, and I do believe I am not or else you would have already corrected me on this matter, you are not a mind reader."
Maybe, just maybe, there was a reason Zazzy was a hermit.
He continued on, clearly on a roll, "If she values fowl over fish, would any fish you return with be 'decent' for her? She cannot expect you to know her every whim, for although you may be siblings, you are yet individuals. She knows not your mind, your soul, nor you hers... and that is how it ought to be."
He trailed off with that, lapsing back into a calm silence.
Nora couldn't help the amused little snort that escaped her nose at the male's dispelling of the notion that he minded her company, or at least that was how Nora interpreted it anyway. It was true, he did not own the lake, but if her company was unwelcome then she would have happily moved along until there was enough distance between them that she would no longer be a disturbance. She knew that not everyone enjoyed her company. She could be a bit... overwhelming at times with her enthusiasm, at least that was how her sister put it.
When Zazzy continued on, Nora found herself tilting her head first one way, and then the other, genuine curiosity flickering in the depths of her eyes. She didn't mind the male's roundabout speaking manner. It was different, and as such that made it fascinating. She so did enjoy things that were strange and new, and currently the albino had flopped his pretty lil rear right into the circle of things that included strange, new, and fascinating. She appreciated that he did not think of her as a burden, and her tail began a gentle wag in a silent gesture of thanks.
Nora let the albino finish, despite her desire to interrupt. It was true, she wasn't a mind reader, but she and her sister had spent so much time together that Nora practically knew her like the back of her own paw! Finally, Nora laughed. It wasn't harsh, or condescending, but rather genuine amusement rolled off her tongue and she grinned over at the curious male. *"Well, when you put it that way, you may have a point. I think I know my sister pretty well though." Nora's tongue lolled out of her mouth, making her grin take on a lopsided and puppish appearance. "She's busy helping Ma'an'Pa get the next shipment to Hearth ready. They're gonna let us come with this time, but... well..." Nora flattened her ears, the fur around them burning with embarrassment. "Reeta said I oughta see if I can find something that'd make a worthwhile trade... or at least she said that's what Pa told her."
With an almost saddened look Nora twisted her head around to pull the patchwork net off her back, dropping it in a pile at her feet. "She didn't think this ol' net I found would be worth anything..." Almost as quickly as Nora's countenance fell she was once again a beaming ray of sunlight, tail wagging in a barely restrained manner. "But I'll show her! All it needed was a bit of care, and I'm sure it'll help me bring in a catch that will make them all proud! Bet I'll get something shiny for it too up in Hearth!" Nora snickered in a mischievous manner, planting one paw determinedly atop the mess of netting. "Won't she be surprised when she wakes up to a stinky pile of fish!"
Zastrugi nodded as Nora spoke, giving the young Fel her chance to speak. Conversations were often a two-way street, in Zazzy's experience. He glanced over here, out of the corner of his vision, almost wistfully as she spoke of her family. It sounded like she had a good thing going for her, strong family ties. That was nice, he was glad that family packs still existed. When Nora revealed her net, Zastrugi's eyebrows knitted together as he looked at it. It was... Well, it was in pretty rough state, but it was clear that the other Felvarg was proud of it.
"More than catching, it will help you carry. Are you certain you want to sell it? It is an investment. It is a memory, more than that. You should not be so quick to rid yourself of your attachments- there may come a day, hopefully far in the future, where you may long for your past possessions."
As the water dropped further away, he knew it was nearing time. "But it that is for you to decide, of course. I cannot offer assistance in matters of the heart, but of the paw, well, my dear, that I can manage." He gave her a rogueish grin and sprung away, moving much more gracefully than a Fel his age should be able to. "The water has departed at last! Shall we not attempt to find something worthy of your beloved sister? Or, at the very least, of the market in Hearth?"
Nora's eyes widened when she realized that the male thought she meant to sell her net, and she quickly shook her head as she hurried to correct him. "Oh! I meant I was going to sell the fish! Not the net! I'll be keeping this, it might come in handy again someday." Despite the misunderstanding her tail wagged. The male was right though, it would certainly help her carry her catch back home. Where alone she'd only be able to return with a few fish, a net would allow her to haul an entire catch back!
Nora's ears pricked when Zazzy spoke of lending a paw, and, much to her delight, he deemed it fit to share a grin with her before he launched himself away from his rump's place of settlement. Nora was quick to follow, pausing only briefly to grasp her net delicately in her jaws, careful not to tear the patch-work network of threads that held it together. She whuffed gleefully, not minding the spray that her paws kicked up from the now-shallow waters.
"Last one to catch a fish is a rotten egg!" Across the shallow waters Nora sped, her target a small cluster of panicked fish that were desperately trying to make it to deeper water as the tide receded. They weren't going to get that opportunity though, not if Nora had any say in the matter.